Successful entrepreneur, philanthropist and Detroit leader William F. Pickard, is reaching within and pouring outward. He is pledging $250,000 to support scholarships in the Wayne State University School of Social Work, according to the school website. An initial gift of $150,000 will create five scholarships, and a future gift of $100,000 will endow the scholarships and make them permanent, according to a press release.
The scholarships will be available to undergraduate and graduate social work students who attend full or part time at the university. In order to be eligible for the funds, students must be active members of the Association of Black Social Workers Detroit chapter or the Wayne State chapter. Scholarship recipients will complete their field placement with Black Family Development, a prominent social services organization in Detroit, according to the release.
“Social work is about making society stronger and making communities better,” said Pickard said in the release. “Supporting students who are steadfast in their determination to uplift Black families is rewarding, and I am proud to honor the individuals who showed me the way to make a difference.”
Each scholarship is named in honor of someone who has made a significant impact on Pickard’s development as a leader:
- Angelo Henderson Scholarship, honoring the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who wrote for The Detroit News, the Detroit Free Press and the Wall Street Journal, and hosted a popular radio program.
- Paul L. Hubbard Scholarship, recognizing Hubbard’s long friendship with Pickard, his championing of social work as a tool for change, and his work to make Black families stronger.
- William H. and Victoria Pickard Scholarship, honoring Pickard’s parents, who worked on a General Motors assembly line in Flint so that he could pursue his education.
- Dr. Gerald K. Smith Scholarship, named for the founder of YouthVille Detroit, who established the organization to support young people through mentoring.
- Sylvia Wilson Scholarship, honoring her dedication to students as the former director of admissions for the School of Social Work.
A former faculty member in the School of Social Work, Pickard has helped shape the school in some ways. In 2017, he gave $125,000 to support renovations in the school’s new building on Woodward Avenue, according to the release. He also used that opportunity to name four rooms in honor of important people in his life, including longtime friend Paul Hubbard.
Hubbard has worked alongside Pickard in improving the lives of Black families in Detroit, founding the nonprofit Black Family Development in 1978, according to the website. An alumnus and dedicated supporter of the School of Social Work, Hubbard has served on the school’s Board of Visitors for several years, the website also added. As a graduate student, Hubbard served as the president of the Association of Black Students and founded the Wayne State chapter of the Association of Black Social Workers, the first student chapter in the country. Seeing the significant financial need among social work students, Hubbard inspired Pickard to create these scholarships.
Hubbard said in the release, “It has been my life’s work to strengthen my community, and the best way I have found is to strengthen Black families. Bill’s generous gift brightens the future for the city of Detroit, and I am proud to call him my friend. His thoughtful requirement that students have hands-on experience working with Black families will ensure that future social workers are deeply aware of the challenges facing the next generation, and provide access to energetic and forward-thinking young minds to the organizations involved.”
Wayne State University President M. Roy Wilson noted both men are important leaders in Detroit and at Wayne State. “Dr. Pickard and Mr. Hubbard have devoted themselves to strengthening the Black community in Detroit and ensuring that Black students have equal access to the education and opportunities that can create generational change,” he said. “We are grateful to have them as part of our university community.”
Pickard hopes his giving will inspire a new generation of Black men to pursue social work, a field in which they’re underrepresented.
“It’s important for social workers to reflect the community members they serve,” said School of Social Work Dean Sheryl Kubiak in the release. “At the Wayne State University School of Social Work, we’re teaching future community leaders how to make a difference. They can have no finer examples than Dr. William Pickard and Mr. Paul Hubbard.”